Lymphedema & Leg Swelling Treatment in Spring Hill, TN

Edema

Swelling in the legs, or edema, occurs when fluid becomes trapped in the soft tissues of the leg from malfunctioning valves in the veins. When the valves in leg veins begin to weaken, or fail, the blood can no longer be pumped out of the legs properly. This causes fluid and blood to become trapped in the legs. When the fluid begins to build up, the leg may begin to swell. The term for the buildup of fluid which leads to swelling in the body is edema.

gross edema of leg and foot picture

Lymphedema

Lymphedema is the abnormal buildup of high-protein fluid in soft body tissues, leading to swelling. It commonly occurs in the arms or legs but can affect other areas like the breast, genitals, neck, or head.

What causes lymphedema?

  1. Venous insufficiency: This occurs when the veins in the legs have difficulty returning blood back to the heart, leading to fluid buildup and leg swelling.

  2. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT): DVT is a blood clot that forms in the deep veins of the leg. It can cause leg swelling, pain, and potentially serious complications if the clot dislodges and travels to the lungs.

  3. Lymphedema: This condition arises from impaired lymphatic drainage, often due to damage or obstruction of the lymphatic system. It can result in fluid retention and swelling in the legs.

  4. Heart failure: When the heart is unable to pump blood efficiently, fluid can accumulate in the legs and other parts of the body, causing edema.

  5. Kidney disease: Impaired kidney function can lead to fluid retention and leg swelling. The kidneys play a crucial role in regulating fluid balance in the body.

  6. Medications: Certain medications, such as calcium channel blockers, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and some diabetes medications, can cause leg edema as a side effect.

  7. Pregnancy: Hormonal changes and increased pressure on the veins during pregnancy can contribute to leg swelling.

  8. Infections: Infections in the legs, such as cellulitis, can cause localized swelling.

  9. Injury or trauma: Leg edema can occur as a result of an injury, fracture, or surgery in the leg, leading to inflammation and fluid accumulation.

  10. Inflammatory conditions: Conditions like arthritis or vasculitis can cause inflammation in the legs, leading to edema.

Lymphedema treatment focuses on managing the condition and reducing swelling. Treatment options may include light exercises to encourage lymph fluid drainage, wrapping the affected limb to promote fluid flow, massage therapy with manual lymph drainage, wearing compression sleeves or garments, and, in severe cases, surgical removal of excess tissue.

Early identification and treatment of vein disease can have a significant impact on lymphedema management. Addressing vein issues promptly, by improving blood flow and reducing venous pressure, it can help minimize the progression of lymphatic fluid buildup and associated symptoms in the affected limbs.

 

 

There is currently no absolute cure for lymphedema. However, various treatment options are available to manage and reduce swelling and discomfort associated with the condition.

Leg swelling during air travel is a common occurrence and can be attributed to several factors:

  1. Prolonged sitting: Sitting for long periods during a flight can lead to reduced blood circulation and fluid pooling in the legs, resulting in swelling.

  2. Immobility: Limited leg movement while seated can impair the natural pumping action of the leg muscles, which helps in returning blood to the heart. This can contribute to fluid retention and leg swelling.

  3. Changes in cabin pressure: The change in cabin pressure during takeoff and landing can affect the body's fluid balance. It may cause fluid to shift from the blood vessels into the surrounding tissues, leading to leg swelling.

  4. Dehydration: Airplane cabins have low humidity levels, which can contribute to dehydration. When the body is dehydrated, it tends to retain more fluid, increasing the likelihood of leg swelling.

  5. Pre-existing conditions: Individuals with pre-existing venous insufficiency or lymphatic disorders may be more prone to leg swelling during air travel due to compromised circulation or impaired lymphatic drainage.

To minimize leg swelling during air travel, it is recommended to:

  1. Stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water before, during, and after the flight.

  2. Avoid excessive alcohol and caffeine consumption, as they can contribute to dehydration.

  3. Take regular walks and do simple leg exercises in the aisle to promote blood circulation.

  4. Wear compression stockings or socks, which help improve blood flow and reduce fluid accumulation in the legs.

  5. Consider elevating your legs by using footrests or placing a cushion or bag under your feet.

If leg swelling persists or is accompanied by pain, warmth, redness, or other concerning symptoms, it is advisable to seek medical attention, as it could indicate a more serious condition.

  1. Heat and humidity: Hot weather can cause blood vessels to dilate, leading to increased fluid leakage into the surrounding tissues, resulting in leg swelling.
  2. Dehydration: Heat and sun exposure can lead to dehydration, causing a decrease in blood volume and impairing proper circulation. This can contribute to leg swelling.

  3. Sodium intake: In hot weather, people often consume more salty foods or drinks, which can lead to water retention and swelling in the legs.

  4. Prolonged standing or walking: Spending time at the beach or engaging in outdoor activities may involve prolonged periods of standing or walking. This can impede proper blood circulation, leading to fluid accumulation and leg swelling.

  5. Sunburn: Sunburn can cause inflammation and fluid retention, contributing to leg swelling in some cases.

  6. Venous insufficiency: If you already have underlying venous insufficiency, where the veins struggle to return blood from the legs to the heart efficiently, heat and prolonged standing can exacerbate the condition and lead to leg swelling.

It is important to stay hydrated, limit sodium intake, and take breaks to rest and elevate your legs when spending time in hot weather or at the beach. If leg swelling persists or is accompanied by other concerning symptoms, it is advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for proper evaluation and guidance.

Contact our office at 615.455.3000 to begin your journey to healthier, pain free legs.

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